One of the very first Scotches I ever had the pleasure of tasting was a Bowmore. I was unprepared for the smokiness of an Islay (pronounced ‘eye-la’) Scotch, but was hooked immediately. I’ve never looked back since. Islay whiskies are some of the finest spirits in the world.
The Bowmore distillery dates back to 1779 and is the first legal producer of whisky in Islay. They still use the traditional floor malting process, which many other distilleries have given up due to the extra cost of hiring workers to turn the grains by hand with large wooden paddles. As well, they use water from the Laggan river which itself has a peaty quality to it, instead of spring water. Finally, they mature their whiskies in used oak barrels, which previously held bourbon, sherry or claret; giving a sweet smoothness to the final product.
Bowmore 12 Year Old (80 proof)
Visual: Clover honey color.
Nose: Loads of smoke over a honey wheat cake base.
Taste: Smooth and warming with a hint of bitterness and aged oak. The midpalate opens up into a spicy heat in the back of the mouth which has burnt sugar and a touch of clove.
Finish: Bold, long and a perfect pairing with a fine cigar. This would also be fantastic in a Blue Blazer. It just gets better with heat.
GSN Rating: B+
Bowmore 15 Year Old (86 proof)
Visual: Golden sunset color.
Nose: Smokey and honeyed.
Taste: Wonderful rich golden honeyed sugar with Demerara sweetness. Dessert-like with gingerbread and currents. Mid-palate leaves more sweet than smoke and an almost frosting-like sweetness.
Finish: Not as long as I expected, but still very satisfying and more along the lines of a great sherry.
GSN Rating: A-